Written by Chris Thonis
In a perfect world, every product we buy would be safe from harmful chemicals, promote social responsibility and be made sustainably. The word “organic” would be irrelevant because nothing could be grown through any other means. Household cleaners would derive strictly from plants and every toy, cosmetic and plastic would remain unquestionably free of neurotoxins or endocrine-disrupting chemicals like BPA and phthalates.
Sadly, we do not live in a perfect world. Products as harmless as rice and baby food have been found to contain lead, known carcinogens continue to show up in everything from our clothing to shower curtains and plastic toys, and the manufacturing of genetically modified food, is being linked directly to obesity and the rapid decline of honeybee colonies in North America.
Throw in an endless stream of conflicting studies about proper nutrition and a proven correlation between overconsumption and environmental destruction and you’ve got a consumer base that is more overwhelmed and anxious about the products they buy than ever before.
The result has been a renewed movement toward natural living; a ballooning $91B industry led by thousands of passionate entrepreneurs and millions of consumers who aim to improve the wellbeing of themselves and the planet through better, cleaner products.
But rapid growth has not come without its problems.
Greater transparency and awareness about food production methods and sustainability issues for example has led to an influx of more than 200 “eco-labels,” which, without any harmony between standards, is doing more to confuse the consumers than educate them.
In addition, more business means more competition, and as the natural living industry nears saturation, merchants are having a harder time standing out from the crowd, while consumers are finding themselves paralyzed by too many choices, not knowing who or what to trust.
Finding Some Clarity
AbesMarket.com founders Jon Polin and Richard Demb have long recognized the need for better cohesiveness in the natural living industry, and launched the natural and organic e-commerce company in 2009 to tackle the issue head on. Their goal: simplify the complexity of living a mindful, natural lifestyle.
Three years later, AbesMarket.com is making that mission a reality.
I sat down with both founders to find out more about what it has taken to bring the natural industry together, and what still needs to be done to ensure everyone is living better in the near future.
When you first started the company in 2009, what did the natural living industry look like, and how have things changed since?
Jon: Passion for the natural and organic spaces has always been strong, but in the past two years or so the industry has exploded. In my opinion we are nearing a tipping point. People are more concerned than ever about what they are bringing home to their families, and there are countless studies suggesting there is plenty to be concerned about. The result has been improvement across the natural living industry, especially with regards to product selection, improved packaging, and more affordable pricing.
Photo from Thinkstock
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